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Uber follows Alibaba’s strategy to gain greater market share in China

为抢夺中国市场 优步效仿阿里巴巴.jpg

Uber is an undeniable hit in China right now. Riders in Beijing, Shanghai and central cities rave about the clean cars and enthusiastic drivers and last week the San Francisco-based company said it counts 1 million rides a day in the country and plans to expand to 50 more cities in the next year from 11 cities today, according to a leaked memo. After opening in early 2014, Uber’s growth might be the best performance by a U.S. tech company in China in years.

优步无疑是中国当前备受关注的公司。北京、上海和各大城市的乘客对整洁的车辆和热情的司机赞不绝口。上周,在一份泄漏的备忘录中,这家总部位于旧金山的公司表示,其在中国的日运营量达100万次,而且打算明年将业务在现有11个城市的基础上再拓展50个新城市。自2014年进入中国以来,它的迅猛增长可能是近些年来美国科技公司在中国斩获的最佳成绩。

And no wonder: Uber’s strategy looks remarkably similar to one Alibaba employed more than a decade earlier before its rapid ascent. Namely, discount, discount, discount.

而不足为奇的是,优步采取的策略看来与十多年前,阿里巴巴迅速崛起之前的策略极为相似:让利。

Alibaba gave sellers free access to its platforms. Uber is doling out big subsidies to its drivers. Sometimes Uber’s are based on the number of rides, other times it’s fare specific. But drivers say they can pull in hundreds more dollars a month—50% or more of their usual take— with some rides earning them a bonus of three times the fare.

当时,阿里巴巴免费向商家开放其交易平台。如今,优步则向其司机发放高额的补贴。这种补贴有时基于接客单数,有时与车费挂钩。但司机们表示,他们每个月能因此多进账成百上千元,比正常的收入高出50%或更多。在某些时候,奖励性补贴甚至是车费的三倍。

Uber also subsidizes riders in its People’s Uber program, technically a nonprofit in China. It runs the service that matches drivers looking for bonuses with people looking for rides. An Uber ride in a new, black Volkswagen—many of the drivers do it full-time—is usually 30% cheaper than a ride in a yellow taxi whose driver may or may not turn on the air conditioning.

这家公司同时也向使用“人民优步”产品的乘客发放补贴。该产品在中国实际上是非营利性质的,它将想赚补贴的车主与需要搭车的乘客进行供求匹配。用优步招车,搭乘一辆崭新的黑色大众轿车,价格通常比普通出租车便宜30%——很多车主现在全职干这个。而与优步的服务质量形成鲜明对比的是,普通出租车司机给不给乘客开空调还不一定。

CEO Travis Kalanick said in the leaked memo to investors that Uber was investing $1.1 billion in China in 2015. A lot of the money is likely being used on subsidies. “Our strategy has been to compete for market share versus acquire it,” he said.

据泄漏出来的备忘录显示,公司首席执行官特拉维斯•卡兰尼克对投资者说,2015年优步将在中国投入11亿美元,其中很大一部分将用于补贴。他说:“我们的策略一直是通过竞争获得市场份额,而不是去收买。”

“It’s like an initial investment,” says Huang Xue, an Uber China spokeswoman. She says driver bonuses change by the day. “There are a number of preconditions that incentivize our driver partners to provide better service and ensure demand is met in peak times and bad weather.”

优步中国女发言人黄雪说:“补贴类似于初期投资。”她指出,司机的补贴每日都会变化。“公司设定了一系列先决条件,不仅能够激励合作司机提供更好的服务,同时也可以确保高峰时段和恶劣天气中的搭乘需求得到满足。”

A decade ago, Alibaba did something similar when it spent huge on subsidies to defeat then-dominate eBay in China.

十年前,阿里巴巴也用过类似的招数,靠着巨额补贴击败了当时在中国市场占优势地位的易趣网。

Discounts aren’t the only path to success in China, but they are a reoccurring theme. Tencent’s online games cost a fraction of Japanese and American video game consoles. Xiaomi’s phones are half as expensive as an iPhone but marketed as equal in quality (an illusion). Alibaba gave away free access to its marketplace for years.

让利并非是在中国获得成功的唯一途径,但这一做法却屡见不鲜。腾讯网络游戏的收费仅是一部日美视频游戏机的零头。小米手机的价格仅为iPhone的一半,但其在营销中宣称拥有毫不逊色的品质。而阿里巴巴曾长达数年免费开放交易平台。

The quick explanation is that the majority of Chinese consumers are especially sensitive about price. They want the same services and goods they see in the West even though their incomes are relatively low. Last year China’s per capita income was the equivalent of $12,000—about the same as Peru’s. Companies cut their prices to win market share.

简单说来,就是大部分中国消费者对价格颇为敏感。虽然其收入相对较低,但希望获得与西方国家相同的服务和产品。去年,中国人均年收入约为1.2万美元,只与秘鲁相当。因此为了赢取市场份额,各大公司竞相削减价格。

Uber knows this, and Kalanick’s public comments strike the conciliatory tone and win-win attitude that Alibaba’s Ma often evokes.

优步深知这一点,而且其CEO在公开讲话中祭出了阿里巴巴马云惯用的安抚口吻和双赢态度。

“Everything we do is focused on making cities better. The benefits come to cities when Uber works with local government and local leaders to make this progress a reality,”Kalanick told a Chinese conference last month, making sure to mention that Uber had created more than 60,000 jobs in China the past month.

“我们所做的一切是为了让城市变得更美好。如果优步能够与当地政府和领导携手共同实现这一进步,城市将获益匪浅。” 特拉维斯•卡兰尼克上月在中国的一次会议上发表讲话时称,同时不忘提及优步在上个月为中国创造了6万多个就业机会。

Uber’s success in China isn’t all about subsidies. It hired local managers instead of bringing over foreigners. It signed deals with Baidu to integrate into Baidu maps, China’s equivalent of Google Maps. And Kalanick has visited the country a handful of times, meeting with governments to ease tensions from taxi groups.

优步在中国的成功并非完全靠补贴。公司聘请的管理人员都是本土人才而不是外国人。它还与百度签署了协议,在百度地图中增加了优步叫车功能模块。CEO已多次到访中国与政府会面,缓和与出租车行业的紧张局面。

But subsidies are the reason drivers say they use Uber. Customers have followed. It’s a strategy that has worked before in China. But in Alibaba’s case and others’, it can mean discounting for a long time.

但司机们表示,补贴是他们使用优步的原因。乘客也是如此。这一策略此前曾在中国取得了成功。但阿里巴巴和其他案例告诉我们,让利可能需要持续很久。

2016-06-24

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